Iceland gets digital music right

In my previous post, I referred to buying Paul Oscar’s new album as a digital download. I just wanted to share how quick and easy it was, and how Iceland knows what the customer wants.

The state of today’s music industry is a topic I can talk about forever but I will try and limit myself to one (of the many) things that really annoys me.

I am one of a large group (larger than the record companies would have you believe) who wants to buy music. And not just the music that the local record companies tell me I have to buy. I want to buy music from around the world. I particularly love Swedish pop music and also Icelandic, Russian, French or whatever. I love good music regardless of where it came from or what language it’s in. I also want to buy back catalogue music. I realise that it’s not always practical to release back catalogue CDs so I can cope with digital releases with the low overhead costs.

I grew up being told how wonderful technology is and how it will offer us so much choice and so many more opportunities. However, the record companies are using this technology to restrict our choices. I get frustrated the number of times I visit iTunes or other download stores and can’t buy what I want to buy just because I live in Australia. Here I am willing to pay and the record companies won’t let me. They then turn around and preach about the evil of downloads while trying to sue small children. If they could only put their energies into coming into the 21st century and using the technology to allow people to buy the music they want to buy when they want to buy it.

Enter Iceland.

The website www.icelandicmusic.com has been set with the cooperation of the Icelandic music industry and has secured the license to distribute digitally almost every song from almost every Icelandic artist in the past 50 years. And the service is available globally so it doesn’t matter that I live in Australia. I can legally buy almost any Icelandic song I want to. Which is how it should be.

Of course, Iceland is a small country with a small population so the logistics are easier but that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible in other countries. It would be easier on a record company by record company scale or even label by label scale. It would just take some effort from record companies. If only they could stop demonising digital music and customers, and start using their imagination and creativity to give the customer what the customer wants. Iceland have shown it can be done.

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